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Lifestyle-related disease is on the rise in South Africa, including high blood pressure. An ingenious partnership involving Oxford University is putting the nation’s extensive mobile phone network to work in beating the disease.

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Out in the townships of South Africa’s Western Cape, unemployment can run at 44 per cent. Entire households may depend on a single old age pension for food. Gang violence leaves people wary of being robbed on the way to a clinic appointment.

With life so chaotic and stressful for many, remembering to take your hypertension medication may seem like a small side issue. But while HIV and TB are epidemic in many communities, there is also a creeping rise in chronic lifestyle diseases. These include hypertension, now the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. According to the South African Medical Research Council, 6.2 million people in a population of 52 million have high blood pressure and 3.2 million have unacceptably high levels, heightening the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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